George of Laodicea

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George of Laodicea (c. 300 AD, probably Epiphania, Cilicia - 24 December 361) was a philosopher from Alexandria, involved in the debate over the doctrine of the Trinity. From 356 to 361, he was archbishop of Alexandria.


According to Ammianus (xxii. ii), George was a native of Epiphania. Gregory Nazianzen states that George's father was a fuller, and that George became so notorious a parasite that he would "sell himself for a cake." After many wanderings, in the course of which he seems to have amassed a considerable fortune- first as an army contractor and then as a receiver of taxes- George ultimately reached Alexandria.

It is not known how or when George obtained ecclesiastical orders; however, after Athanasius had been banished in 356, George was promoted by the influence of the then-prevalent Arian faction to the vacant see. His theological attitude was that of a semi-Arian or Homoiousian, and his associates were Eustathius of Sebaste and Basil of Ancyra. At George's instigation, the second Sirmian formula (promulgated by the third council of Sirmium, in 357), which was conciliatory towards strict Arianism, was opposed at the council of Ancyra in 358 (Harnack, Hist. of Dogma, iv. 76).[1]

George's persecutions and oppressions of the orthodox ultimately raised a rebellion that compelled him to flee for his life; but his authority was restored, albeit with difficulty, by a military demonstration. Untaught by experience, George resumed his course of selfish tyranny over Christians and heathen alike. This raised the ire of the populace to such a pitch that, on the accession of Julian, George's downfall was effected, and he was thrown in prison. The local citizenry subsequently dragged George from the jail and killed him, tossing his body into the sea.[1]

Though George had a sordid and brutal character, he had a highly cultivated literary taste, and in the course of his checkered career found the means to collect a splendid personal library, which Julian ordered conveyed to Antioch for his own use. An anonymous work against the Manicheans, discovered by Lagarde in 1859 in writings once owned by Titus of Bostra, has also been attributed to George.[1]


  1. ^ a b c  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "George of Laodicea" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.